From the makers of the exquisite Monome controller/sequencer boxes comes a sleek metal box that can be whatever you desire it to be. It’s open and evolving, taking in sound and throwing back all sorts of ideas and possibilities. It’s curious, enticing, bold and exploratory.
“norns is ____” says developer “tehn” in the blog post. He’s not sure he’s got anywhere close to answering that question. From what I can gather amongst the cryptic prose and fascinating poetry is a computerised box that can be programmed to deal with sound in whatever way you choose. In the video, the example is that it records sound, slices, splices and manipulates it in very pleasing ways. tehn suggests that if you wanted to control the filter then add a script that talks to the DSP. A couple of lines of code could add randomisation to specific parameters. If you’re not sure how to code something then browse the library of community scripts. And you continue in this vein until you’ve developed your own unique instrument.
The inputs and outputs are relatively simple with stereo in and out plus a headphone. There are three rotary encoders and 3 buttons and a rather nice looking OLED screen. Unusually there are 4 USB ports for connecting other devices and controllers. Perfect for connecting the Monome Arc and Grid devices but will also take regular MIDI controllers, game pads, footswitches, keyboards and possibly CV devices.
On the sound side of things, he has a few things going on already including a super-parameterized polysynth, an Akai-style sampler, percussive polysynth and multitrack granulator.
I think this is just the beginning. It’s a beautifully designed box with a whiff of Teenage Engineering about, and it reminds me of the Rebel Technologies Magnus Modular project which also takes scripts from a library to make it into whatever you want. I guess that’s the nature of the sort of processing power and high-level languages we have. Why make it one thing when it can be all things just by changing the program or applying a script.
The day-by-day reveal approach seems to be leading us to Superbooth. Maybe we’ll find out more.
- The rolling and evolving blog post.